Friday, February 10, 2006

Homebuilding & Renovating Show, NEC, March 2-5

Matt asks

I'm new to this game, just starting out with the long process of research and I'm planning on going to the NEC show next month.

Would you recommend me going for 1 or 2 days?

I thought it might be worth 1 day for the seminars and 1 day for getting round all the exhibitors, including the Smart Home show.

Any advice is welcome

Mark reckons

It's a big show, which has been running for around 15 years now, and each year it seems to be a little bigger than the one before. You could easily spend all four days there and not see everything but whether you'd want to do that is another matter.

I will be there all four days but then I am paid by the organsers to deliver some of the seminars. At this show, and also at the London one in September, there are two theatres running seminars concurrently, so you have to choose which topic you want to check out. If there is a clash, then you have to go on two days. The timings don't alter and the topics are clearly marked up outside the theatres: seminars start every hour on the half hour from 10.30 through to 3.30. You used to have to queue to get tickets but in the past year they have relaxed this requirement so that you can come and go as you please.

Some people come specifically for a day of free seminars and plonk themselves down in a prominent seat for the duration. Others treat them more as a quiet spot to have a sit down and a snooze. But overall they are reasonably informative, especially if you are starting out. Old hands would find them a bit basic, methinks.

The exhibition is probably most useful to people with live projects to get comparison quotes on and to get a feel for the businesses plying for their custom. It can be a bit overwhelming just wandering about from stand to stand if you have nothing specific in mind. There is a satelite exhibition called Smart Homes, which has grown out of the original exhibition: it has its own seminars running throughout the day. And last year there was an attempt to create a green zone in the main exhibition, but it wasn't very clearly marked so I don't think many people realised when they were in it. This year this idea is being taken a stage further with a Period House zone as well as a green one..

If you come, do look me up. When I am not doing seminars (12.30, 1.30 and 3.30, each one for an hour), I am usually hanging around the Ask the Experts stand, which is always located close to the seminar theatres.


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